Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dandy Jim, From Caroline

"Dandy Jim, From Caroline" is a minstrel song that became popular across America in the 1840s. It tells the tale of a supposedly vain African American man. Being the popular culture of the day, which often combined music, drama, and comedy, minstrels, and the racial stereotypes they reinforced, such as Dandy Jim, did much toward maintaining race prejudice toward African Americans. Misconceptions and miseducation about people of color were furthered by these negative depictions that were not only presented on stage, but also - as shown above - appeared on sheet music, and were sung aloud in saloons, at community get-togethers, and in family parlors.

According to the standards of the day, it was ludicrous and hilarious to see a person of perceived lower social standing donning fashionable attire and "putting on airs." For most of racist 19th century America a well dressed African American was an odd thing, and naturally someone of that ilk would be seen as acting out of place. Not being provided with opportunities to disprove these persistent stereotypes only made the journey to freedom and equality all that more difficult. Stereotyped personality characteristics that often were applied via minstrel songs branded African Americans during the antebellum years and on into the 20th century. It took determination, persistence, and tons of sacrifice to hurdle the many obstacles that songs like the following unfairly branded to people of color.  

I've often heard it said of late
Dat Souf Carolina was de state,
Whar handsome Niggars bound to shine,
Like "Dandy Jim from Caroline."

Chorus: For my ole massa tole me so,
I was de best lookin Nigger in de County O,
I look in de glass an I found it so,
Jus what massa told me O.

I drest myself from top to toe,
And down to Dinah I did go,
Wid pantaloons strapp'd down behine,
Like "Dandy Jim from Caroline."


De bull dog clar'd me out ob de yard,
I tought I'd better leabe my card,
I tied it fast to a piece ob twine,
Signed "Dandy Jim from Caroline."
For my ole massa &c.

She got my card an wrote me a letta,
An ebery word she spelt de betta,
For ebery word an ebery line,
Was "Dandy Jim from Caroline."


Oh, beauty it is but skin deep,
But wid Miss Dinah none compete;
She chang'd her name from lubly Dine,
To Mrs. Dandy Jim from Caroline."


An ebery little one we had,
Was de berry image ob he dad,
Dar heels stick out tree feet behine,
Like "Dandy Jim from Caroline."


I took dem all to church one day,
An hab dem christened widout delay,
De Preacher christened eight or nine,
Young Dandy Jim from Caroline.


An when de Preacher took he tea,
He seem'd to be berry much perplex,
For noting cum across he mine,
But "Dandy Jim from Caroline."



  1. Who would have thought that when you say you are "Jim Dandy" that you were referring to a austentacious black man from a 1840's song? That is why I look these type of sayings up. The history behind them can be shocking.

  2. well who would’ve thunk it….